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biosphere

all the parts of the planet that are inhabited by living things; sum of all Earth's ecosystems

ecosystem

community of living things plus the nonliving featured of the environment that support them

organism

any living thing

cell

basic unit of living matter; separated from its environment by a plasma membrane

DNA

molecule responsible for inheritance; nucleic acid that contains the sugar deoxyribose

gene

unit of inherited information in DNA

species

distinct form of life

domain

broadest category used to classify life forms

unicellular

consisting of a single cell

prokaryotic cell

cell lacking a nucleus and most other organelles

eukaryotic cell

cell with a nucleus (surrounded by its own membrane) and other internal organelles

multicellular

consisting of many cells

system

complex organization formed from a simpler combination of parts

photosynthesis

process by which plants use the sun's energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars

producer

organism that makes its own food (autotroph) and produces organic molecules that serve as food for other organisms in its ecosystem

consumer

organism that obtains food by eating producers (autotrophs) or other consumers

homeostasis

internal stability or "steady state" maintained by the body

adaptation

inherited characteristic that improves an organism's ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment

population

group of individuals of the same species living in a particular area at the same time

natural selection

process by which individuals with inherited characteristics well-suited to the environment leave more offspring than do other individuals

evolution

generation-to-generation change in the proportion of different inherited genes in a population that account for all of the changed that have transformed life over an immense time

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